Letter from Thomas Wentworth Higginson to Edmund Clarence Stedman
- Publication date
- Stedman, Edmund Clarence, 1833-1908, Higginson, Thomas Wentworth, 1823-1911, Correspondence, Abernethy Manuscripts Collection
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- 2016-02-10 16:58:28
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- Joseph Watson (ed.)
Newport. R.I. Nov. 28. 1875 My dear Stedman I have been reading your book with great enjoyment; its carefulness, thoughtness, delicacy of criticism + fine expression make it a kind of book very rare among us; far beyond that of Whipple for instance, which is apt to have a note of commonplace. It is a marvel sign of a man so habitually industrious as myself, that you have been able to accomplish it amid the drawbacks of ill-health + pre-occupation. [page break] To some of your minor criticisms I should dissent; for instance I think that you place Matthew Arnold far to high -he seeming to me to land among the fourth rates as a poet, whatever the merit of his prose. Then I think you dismiss Charles (Turner) Tennyson with undue contempt; I have always thought there was a great deal of delicate feelings + felicity in his sonnets. For contra [sic] I am delighted with your tribute to Thornberry, whom I think quite under-estimated, as you do. The only serious faults I find with the book is what seems to me the treason to America in two passages; pp. xiii. 125. To those I [page break] would disagree + indeed read them with [--------]. [Upon which?] men as you who ought to see that there is _not_ “a lack off inspiring theme or historic role, of dramatic contrast + material; + that [--] I have [---] at length in my “Americanism in Literature” (atlantic Essays) it is the democratic Society of the future which by [-------ting] the Conventional to the individual is really to afford more material + [-] for higher style of contrast . I am almost indigent when you speak of the “Barren sentiment of a plain New England life” -plain if you please but not necessarily barren. [page break] Emerson + Hawthorne certainly do not find it practically barren, though the better is one moment of de[---] made a similar remark. The strength of Whittier has been in finding all needed elements of poetry at home. Pardon me if I say this, but really I read those passages with a feeling of real grief. Nevertheless I thank you for the book as a whole, most cordially. Your serv [sic] Thos. Wentworth Higgingson
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